Lower state revenue forecast leads to Veterans' Home budget reduction


BENNINGTON -- Due to a downward adjustment in state revenue expectations, the Vermont Veterans' Home has had to make a budget reduction in general funds of $112,694, according to home Administrator Melissa Jackson.

Due to a decline in Vermont's projected revenue growth from 4.8 percent to 3 percent, Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding issued a memo to all state agencies requiring a hiring freeze and a reduction in general funds for each agency by four percent. Jackson detailed the home's response at Wednesday's Board of Trustees meeting.

The cuts included almost $60,000 from the dietary account; $15,000 from the salary account; $5,000 each from the software, equipment and IT hardware account; $4,000 from the water/sewer account and $3,800 from the mental health account.

Employee trustee

Wednesday's meeting was the first meeting as a new trustee of Harry "Jaime" Percey Jr. Members of the Vermont State Employees Association elected Percey, a 25-year building and grounds employee at the home, to fill a newly created seat on the facility's Board of Trustees.

It's the first time ever a classified home employee has held a seat on the board.

A recently passed law requires that one member of the 21-member board of trustees is to be a classified employee with at least five years of service at the home. The law requires that this member be elected by a secret ballot administered by the board of trustees, with the voters being the home's classified employees.

"This is very exciting news," said home employee and VSEA Board of Trustees member Rachael Fields in a prepared statement. She helped lobby for the seat on the board. "Jamie is a veteran himself, and I believe he will be a strong advocate for our veterans and for VSEA members. I know that as soon as the governor officially appoints Jaime, he will get right to work fighting to help the Veterans Home. It's a big win for the front-line workers here, who only want to help improve our home and provide the best care possible to the Vermont veterans we serve daily."

Board retreat

The board in June appointed an ad hoc committee to come up with a board training and education program. This committee on Wednesday presented a plan for a day-and-a-half retreat at a yet-undetermined Vermont location. The program would include a brainstorming session, educational sessions and a "next steps" discussion. The topics of the training would be government and non-profit organizations, trustee roles and responsibilities, board structure and function, keeping the board effective.

The session will be in late fall, "most likely at a Vermont hotel/resort location," said Trustee Andrew Cotrel. "Funding for this event can come from general endowment funds held in trust by the board and used for overall betterment of the home."

The ad hoc committee received authorization from the board to proceed. The expected total cost is up to $10,000. Trustee Charly Dickerson noted that the actual amount might be somewhat more or less.

The committee has been in discussion with Ellen Colemire, a nationally know facilitator dealing with non-profit boards who operates out of the Phoenix, Arizona, area. Colemire is a longtime acquaintance of Trustee Sharon Richie. Colemire said she would waive her usual fee to conduct the retreat. Colemire served in the U.S. Navy for 14 years and was a White House fellow.

The name of her firm, which she started in 1994 with her husband, is Executive Consulting Inc. According to its website, the company "specializes in the development and implementation of business and organizational strategies for a wide variety of clients. Their goal is to provide consulting services that focus on achieving and maintaining peak performance, helping organizations to reach and exceed their full potential."

Richie met Colmire in 1982 in the White House Fellows program. Richie later worked for Colmire's consulting firm for a total of six years. Richie said, "She has an outstanding reputation, always puts together a great team. She will be coming to us as a single person but also for free."

Mark E. Rondeau can be reached at mrondeau@benningtonbanner.com. Twitter: @banner_religion


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